During the 1937 elections Congress was able to form government in 8 out of 11 provinces (failed to form government in Bengal, Panjab and Sindh). The 28-month congress rule was going to be significant, as it was going to show the capacity of the Indians to rule in an effective manner. During the 28 months government Congress ministries took a number of initiatives like:
• Emergency powers related laws repealed.
• Restrictions and ban on press, certain books, newspapers, and illegal organizations was lifted.
• Legislated a number of laws relating to land reforms, debt relief, forest grazing fee, arrears of rent, land tenure sect.
Social Welfare Reforms:
• Measures for welfare of Harijans taken-temple entry, education, etc.
• Encouragement was given to khadi and indigenous enterprises.
• In 1938 national planning committee set up under congress president Subhash Chandra Bose.
• Reforms in education, public health, sanitation as well as in prisons were undertaken.
• Goodwill sought to be created between labour and capital with mediation of ministries.
• Efforts were made to improve workers ‘condition and secure wage increase for them.
Failures of ministries:
Despite these achievements there were certain failures of ministries like:
• A visible acrimony against communists. Yusuf Meherally and S.S. Batliwala were arrested for inflammatory and seditious speeches. K.M. Munshi used CID against communist and leftist. Ministries took recourse to section 144 and arrested the leaders.
• Most of the benefits from agrarian reforms went only to statutory and occupancy tenants while sub-tenants did not gain much.
• Agricultural laborers did not benefit as they had not been mobilized.
Implications of the Congress ministries works:
The basic premises of the British rule in India was their superiority over Indians, there concept of white man’s burden and the said incapacity of the Indian to rule themselves. They have perpetuated these ideologies through different mechanisms and now this 28 months government was time which opened the minds of the Indians to new realities. For the first time, they were to see what a national government would mean for them, they were to perceive the benefits which only a nationalist government can bring.
It was this psychological benefit, which was at work during the 1942 Quit India Movement, which saw the voluntary, spontaneous and heroic participation from the public. Therefore, it is right to say that the 28-month government was not able to change the character of the colonial administration, was not able to bring in economic, agrarian reforms as that was not possible in short duration. But it successfully achieved what was achievable in short period, the liberation of the minds of Indians and that was more lasting gain.